Community related violent crisis in Bayelsa state has become a problem that needs urgent attention. Communal crises are being reported in different parts of the state with their associated damning consequences.
During such violent situations, the resultant effects on the affected communities have always been unpalatable. It has been cases of lost of lives, maiming, burning down of house and other wanton destruction of hard earned properties.
Only recently, the ancient city of Nembe Basambiri and other surrounding communities in Nembe Local Government Area of the state were thrown into serious chaos as some yet to be identified gunmen unleashed terror on the community, killing and maiming innocent residents who were asleep in the death of the night. Though the mission of the assailants is yet unknown, there are strong indications that the attack was not unconnected to communal disagreements.
While we commend the state government for her quick response with placement of dusk-to-down curfew in the area to forestall further carnage, we are also calling for discreet investigation by the police and relevant agencies to unravel the cause of the mindless killing in Nembe and bring the perpetrators to book. We equally appreciate the state government on the recent caution to communities to avoid the temptation of dethroning rulers whose chieftaincy stools are recognized by government.
Similarly, the gory memories of the destruction of property that occurred some months ago at Peremabiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state will remain indelible in the minds of the people of the riverine town for a very long time. The two-time attacks that were unleashed on the community by yet to be identified gunmen left regrettable imprints on the sand of Peremabiri. Residence of a former militant leader, Paul Eris a.k.a General Ogunbus was not spared in the separate attacks.
After the attacks, the state government issued a statement, condemning the impasse and blaming it on community leadership tossle. The state governor particularly gave a matching order to the state Police Command to fitch out the perpetrators but nothing is yet to be heard to that regard.
Another communal crisis that is of grave concern to both security agencies and the state government is the one that has sent the people of Amabolou community in Ekeremor local government area of the state packing over communal election dispute. Recently, the Bayelsa state police command paraded one Mr. Monk Steamer and his gang for allegedly shooting and killing one Etolor Omolojo following disagreement that elicited from community leadership election.
Apart from the death of Omolojo, several other persons were said to have received bullet wounds while houses and other properties have been destroyed during the attacks and reprisal attacks which turned the community to a ghost town. Many residents of Amabolou community are now living as refugees in neighbouring communities, no thanks to communal crisis.
From observations, these communal violent crises are more prevalent in communities that bear oil and gas where the International Oil Companies are operating. As a result of pecuniary gains accruing from oil activities, most community leaders whose tenure of office had clasped would refuse to relinquish power, thereby creating bad blood and fuelling crisis. The IOCs have also been severally accused of using divide-and-rule method to cause crisis amongst their host communities.
Therefore, governments at all levels including security operatives should put a proper check on the activities of the international oil companies in relationship with their host communities.
Furthermore, all autonomous communities should as a matter of utmost importance ensure that they obtain written constitutions where terms of office of community leaders shall be clearly enshrined to avoid unnecessary power tossle.
The state government and the security agencies should ensure adequate security during community elections. Those who struggle to remain in office forever because of monetary gains should realize that power is transient and God gives it to whoever He wishes.
Also, those who fan the embers of communal crisis should bear at the back of their minds that if crisis occurs, their loved ones could be victims.